South Yorkshire Police has defended itself over fresh criticism of its handling of child sexual exploitation cases.
The BBC’s Panorama programme visited Rotherham nearly a year after the damning Alexis Jay Report revealed that 1,400 children had fallen victim to grooming gangs and paedophiles.
In last night’s episode, some young female victims spoke about how they are still trying to come to terms with what happened and questioned if their abusers would ever face prosecution.
The programme claimed a 2006 report warning about the abuse and trafficking of young girls in South Yorkshire was sent to about 90 people within South Yorkshire Police.
In a statement released after the show, the force said 198 live investigations were currently being managed by South Yorkshire Police. Last week 69 charges were brought in relation to one large abuse case. Fifty-eight people have already been charged with abuse offences.
The statement said: “South Yorkshire Police is in a very different position now to where we were just a few years ago. That’s not to say we are getting everything right, but a review co-ordinated by the National Crime Agency said officers working on current investigations are ‘conscientious, enthusiastic and focused upon providing good outcomes’ and the force’s current strategic leadership of this critical area of public protection was found to be ‘professional and appropriate’.”
It said a team dedicated to tackling exploitation had increased from nine people to 74.